It's not all like The Killing. We can be funny too...
Scandinavian comedians hope to cash in on success of crime dramas
Nick Clark is the arts correspondent of The Independent. He joined the newspaper in June 2007, initially reporting on the stock markets. He has covered beats including the City, and technology, media and telecoms and made the switch to arts in December 2011. He has also contributed articles to the sports section.
Wednesday 08 August 2012
Given the extraordinary rise in Scandinavian crime fiction and TV shows, the British may be forgiven for thinking that the region is a miserable place beset by murders, human trafficking and extraordinary knitwear. But a series of young entertainers from Sweden, Norway and Finland have arrived at the Edinburgh Festival to prove they have a funny bone too.
Paavo Arhinmaki, Minister for Culture and Sport in Finland, told The Independent that Scandinavian countries were hoping to use the success of shows including The Killing and The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo to bring other types of work to Britain.
"We want to jump on that moving train," he said.
Among the hot Scandinavian talents this year are Daniel Simonsen, a Norwegian comedian who will perform his first full-length stand-up routine. "There isn't a huge culture of stand-up in Norway, but increasingly there are a lot of talented comedians out there," he said. "There's only one comedy club; it's not like Britain. People will come over more and more. It's happening right now.
"I really like the Brits. They are really encouraging," he said. Another heavily feted comic at the festival is Magnus Betner, who has won Swedish Comedian of the Year twice, and has returned to Edinburgh after a successful debut last year.
He told The List that his success has been helped by heading to the UK, adding: "Others think it's a really good thing and a lot are now trying to do the same." A veteran performer, Carl-Einar Häckner, is also performing.
There are several collectives in Edinburgh this year, with Norwegians of Comedy, featuring Martin Beyer Olsen, Lars Berrum and Adam Tumidajewicz – "It's free and funnier than the last time Norwegians invaded" – and The Dirty Uncle Comedy Roadshow with the Swede Tomas Ahlbeck.
Mr Arhinmaki added: "The Edinburgh Festival is a natural springboard for any international ambitions. The Fringe and the UK market is the most interesting one for us. There is a more general push to bring Finnish culture to the UK; this year we are hoping it will be in music."
One of the Festival's cult favourites from last year, Fork, have returned the Finnish "electro-vocal circus" and see themselves as entertainers, with comedy making up a big part of the act.
"I have a fear of flying. Some friends drink alcohol to calm themselves down. I board the plane feeling so hungover I will welcome death with open arms."
"I met a guy who said: 'The problem with this country is we are mixing races.' I said: 'You're fat, pink people with poor teeth. How can fresh genes make things worse?"
"I had to leave Norway as there's only one comedy club in the whole country. And the best comedian is really s**t.
"That guy is me."
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